Google Appoints Former Advertising Executive To Head Its South African Operations

Google Appoints Former Advertising Executive To Head Its South African Operations

Former advertising agency executive Alistair Mokoena has been named head of Google South Africa. He will take up his new post in April 2020. Former Ogilvy South Africa CEO Alistair Mokoena will now head up Google South Africa operations. Image: Ogilvy South Africa

Search engine giant Google has hired advertising industry executive Alistair Mokoena as its new country director for South Africa.

Mokoena will begin his new job in April 2020 and will oversee the commercial business for Google South Africa, the company said in an email on Jan. 17.

Mokoena most recently served as CEO of advertising agency Ogilvy South Africa and has also worked in executive roles at Absa, South African Breweries, Tiger Brands, Unilever and Mondelez, MediaOnline reports.

He replaces Luke Mckend, who left the position in 2018 to join LinkedIn as a director in charge of Africa, Southern, and Eastern Europe, based in Dublin.

Google has offices in four major African cities — Johannesburg, where Mokoena will be based, Accra, Lagos, and Nairobi.

Google’s focus in South Africa, and Africa in general, has been on bringing more people online and supporting startups through accelerator programs, entrepreneur training and funding.

South Africa’s internet penetration rate is below the global average (57 percent) — 54 percent of South Africans have access to the internet. Google says that’s one of the obstacles to greater adoption of Google services in South Africa.

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In November 2019, Google announced that it was collaborating with local internet service providers to provide free internet for thousands of South Africans in 125 public spaces across Cape Town including Langa, Khayelitsha, and Gugulethu, according to a Google blog post.

Google’s free internet initiative, called Google Station, has targeted an area on the outskirts of Cape Town known as the Cape Flats — one of the most underserved communities in South Africa where informal settlements have proliferated.